Cryptics of coffee shop Wi-Fi

Please just give me the password!

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A person dressed like a detective in a coffee shop.
ILLUSTRATION: Aliya Nourlan / The Peak

By: Yasmin Hassan, Staff Writer

After a long day of classes, I roam downtown, looking for a place to sit and do some work. I’m walking with my AirPods in, canvas bag at my side, hurriedly searching for a welcoming café. I keep passing gentrified urban coffee shops with pale ceilings, cement floors, eco-friendly wood veneer, and glaring neon signs with obscure ‘90s movie references. Finally, I see my beacon of hope, the one that’s just right. 

Looking over the menu, I waver between options but finally decide. The barista is friendly, making small talk about the rush that had just finished. Sitting down, I make myself comfortable and sprawl out all my supplies, my laptop primed and ready for a furious writing session. I’m feeling . . . studious. Before I begin, I notice my Wi-Fi’s not connected. Ah, easy fix; this is a café. Surely, they have free guest Wi-Fi. Oh, it has a password, I think as I fixate my gaze on that vexatious little padlock that sits on the Wi-Fi symbol. 

My eyes wander as I look up at the walls of my surroundings, trying to see if there’s some sort of plaque or sign with the password. I inspect the tabletop for a note, and after seeing nothing on the long wooden counter, I inspect the bottom (just to make sure). I find chewed gum and stark disappointment. I see a sign taped down at the end of the counter, and I scoot over to find the password. Instead, I’m met with a chunky QR code that reads “scan for Wi-Fi,” so I whip out my phone and do just that. The site buffers and buffers and I can’t look away, like watching a toddler fall face first into sand. I snap out of my trance when the server collapses in on itself deciding I am not good enough for the Wi-Fi. Splendid! Just as I frantically searched for the café itself, I now seek its deepest darkest secret, which is apparently the Wi-Fi password. I dare not move from my seat as I cannot handle that sort of embarrassment — I just sat down and layed out my possessions! So, instead I try the age old guessing game.

I start wondering, is it their phone number? Maybe I’ll try that. Their email? Address number? Postal code? Is it the nice barista’s social security number? WHY DO I HAVE TO TRAVEL THE SEVEN SEAS, COMPLETE A MAPPED QUEST, AND UNCOVER AN ANCIENT SACRED
TEXT TO GET THIS GUEST WI-FI? To outsiders, I’m just admiring the floating planters that hang on the walls, but on the inside, I feel akin to an overly anxious detective. I’m deciphering the configuration of the rustic brick statement wall to see if there might be some sort of clue there. Perhaps it’s only accessible through Morse code. Yes! Maybe each time the espresso machine froths milk or signals a poured espresso, it corresponds to dots and dashes! That’s gotta be it.  
Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a Morse code translator. Is it time to swallow my pride along with my latte? I accept my defeat as a bead of sweat rolls down my forehead in the air-conditioned café, and I walk up to the barista. 
“Sorry to bug you, would you mind telling me the password to your Wi-Fi?”
“No problem, it’s ‘CoffeeLovers2012’!”
“Thanks so much.”
Alas, I have Wi-Fi, but at what cost? My dignity? My strife? All for naught, I fear. Never has the sweetest iced vanilla oat latte tasted so bitter.

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